There was a familiar face back in Cleveland Monday as LeBron James, and the Lakers were in town to battle the Cavaliers.
Cleveland got the start they wanted as they had their largest lead of 14 points in the first, but the Lakers have a King, and behind a James’ triple-double of 38 points, 11 rebounds, and a season-high 12 assists, the Lakers defeated the Cavs 131-120 to sweep the season-series.
James even had this vicious dunk on his former teammate Kevin Love:
LeBron put on a show in Cleveland 👑— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) March 22, 2022
1 Dunk On Kevin Lovepic.twitter.com/nXnZf20O9m
Cleveland(41-31) finished their five-game homestand 3-2, while the Lakers(31-41) went 2-2 on their four-game road trip.
Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Lakers.
The Great for the Cavs:
-Darius Garland played at an elite level Monday night. He had 29 points and 17 assists, with only one turnover. This was Garland’s third straight game of 24-plus points and 12-plus assists, which ties a team record held by James.
-Lauri Markkanen had 18 points and nine rebounds. Markkanen has been in double figures in seven of the last eight games.
-For the second consecutive game, Lamar Stevens was in double figures as he had 16 points and six rebounds.
-Cavs’ Offense: Cleveland had six players in double figures, including all five starters. In addition, the Cavs shot 52% from the floor. Cleveland had 52 points in the paint and scored 120, which would probably equate to a victory on most nights.
The Not So Great for the Cavs:
Fourth Quarter: Cleveland took a 97-96 lead into the fourth, but the Lakers dominated from there. Los Angeles got 13 points from James and 12 points from Stanley Johnson in the quarter. Also, the Lakers shot 65% from the field, and they got anywhere they wanted on the floor. The Lakers outscored Cleveland 35-23 in the final stanza.
Defense: According to Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, the defense was “terrible.” The last time the Cavs allowed over 130 points was when they lost to Memphis(132) in the season-opener. The Lakers scored 64 points in the paint and shot 56% from the field. Just like the Cavs, they had six players in double figures.
Coming into this game, Cleveland was third in points allowed, but the defense was lacking Monday night.
Second Quarter: Cleveland led 35-28 after the first quarter, but the Laker stormed back in the second. Los Angeles shot 71% from the field, including 57% from downtown in the quarter. After the Cavs pushed the lead to eight, Los Angeles went on a 16-7 run to take their first lead of the game(46-45). Cleveland struggled from deep in the second as they shot 3/14 from behind the arc. Los Angeles outscored Cleveland 39-27 in the second and took a 67-62 lead at the break.
LeBron James was on another level Monday night, which often happens when he returns to Cleveland. In addition, the Cavs’ defense was just not very good.
This was a very winnable game for the Cavs. Coming into this contest, the Lakers had dropped six of eight and were 10-24 on the road, so again, Cleveland should have won.
With the loss, the sixth-seeded Cavs are now one game up on the seventh-seeded Raptors(40-32), who they will battle in a big one Thursday night.
Cleveland heads to Toronto to battle the Raptors Thursday night.
Best of the Rest:
-Isaac Okoro was 4/4 from three-point range and scored 12 points for Cleveland; Caris LeVert had 13 points off the bench.
Russell Westbrook had 20 points and 11 assists; D.J. Augustin was 7/7 from the field, including 6/6 from three-point range and finished with 20 points off the bench.
-James, who spent 11 seasons in Cleveland and led the team to their only NBA title, is now 17-1 against the Cavs in his career. In those 18 games, he’s averaging 29.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per contest.
Watch below as Garland and Stevens react to the loss to Los Angeles: